Mysteries and Mayhem by WD. Gagliani and David Benton

Mysteries & Mayhem. A very fitting title for such an ambitious little collection of short horror stories. Luckily, the book lives up to its name, and delivers on both the noir-ish feeling of some of the yarns, to the outright insanity and action that accompany the rest. Gagliani, as you well know, is a master wordsmith capable of bending words to his will. Benton, a newcomer to this reader, is obviously on par, holding his own and then some. The direction that these two take with these tales is not easily defined, as they jump from Dark and Sinister, to Erotic, over to a black-tinged humor, on to straight-up procedural, and then back again.

Gagliani and Benton are a writing team made in horror heaven. Continue reading

Savage Nights by W.D. Gagliani

Gagliani is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he write beautifully, eliciting more responses in one paragraph than most writers can pull out of a reader in a whole book, but he goes straight for the throat every time. With Savage Nights, it’s almost as if Gagliani set out to write a thriller novel with more bang for your buck. What he ended up with is the most balls-to-the-wall, genre defying, action packed piece of work I have read in a very long time.

To say that Gagliani is the master of his craft would be a terrible understatement. This is an author who was made for this gig.

“It’s Kit,” his brother moaned. “They’ve taken her.”

They don’t know what they’ve done…

Kidnapped from a busy mall, Brant’s beloved 19-year old niece is in a world of trouble. Hard-nosed inquiries suggest that she has been snatched for auction by the international sexual slavery ring run by the ruthless Goran, also known as The Serb. Kit’s final destination: a modern harem, a brothel, a dungeon, or one of the Serb’s kinky slavery clubs.

Or worse.

Now Brant will need is inconsistent and sometimes unreliable psychic ability more than he ever did in Vietnam and what cam after… He reconnects with his Vietnam buddies, some of them ex-cops, to help him pry Kit from Goran’s clutches.

Brant becomes her rescuer, avenging angel — and executioner. In his quest, there may be redemption for his own past sins. Or there may only be new sins…

Never before have I read a more complex, yet smooth concoction of crime, thriller, mystery, exploitation, and horror in one single novel. Savage Nights has a little something for everyone, and yet still manages to push the boundaries of what I can only be define as “Horror-Noir” – a co-mingling of all of the above mentioned genres, but steeped in more black than one could possibly even dream about in their darkest nightmares.

Gagliani pushes the envelope with this, making the reader think, squirm, and become thoroughly entranced by not only the depth of the subject matter, but also the author’s brilliant ability to set pace, manhandle emotions, and tug the reader along on a journey – whether they want to go or not. This is a lengthy novel, and for good reason – there’s no way this much detail could fit in otherwise. The amount of research that had to go into something this precise… this far-reaching, is amazing. Where the author fails could only be in the fact that Brant is a one-off character, and that this isn’t the first book in a series.

How this could be a self-published effort is also beyond me, as this novel begs for a broader audience. Though I do have to say – this is, bar none, the best self published title I have ever come across. Gagliani’s track record with me is, so far, spotless.

The main character – Richard Brant – is a hard edged ex-vietnam soldier with a penchant for being able to figure out what’s going to happen next with a sort-of extra sensory perception. His days as a tunnel rat have left him and his fellow soldiers psychologically scarred, and will do the same to you. Through Gagliani’s brilliant jumping back and forth between present and past, we’re able to glean enough information to fully understand Brant, and ultimately unleashing one of the greatest ex-soldier/anti-heroes of modern time into our brain pans. It’s virtually impossible to not be affected by this character. He’s sympathetic, heroic, likeable, and thoroughly awe-inspiring.

Gagliani really digs into the history of the Vietnam war – a war I wasn’t even around for – and serves it up on a platter soaked in blood. When Brant and company are crawling through the tunnels in search of enemy booby-traps and hideouts, we’re right there with him, dirty clothes and all. I felt hot, sweaty, and disgusting with every trip back into Brant’s memory.

And speaking of disgusting – let it be known that Gagliani is one of the best authors in the business today when it comes to producing gut-wrenching, violent prose. When he sets out to write a scene that is designed to knock you off your feet, you can bet that he’s going to succeed in spades. His powerful words leap out of the book and throttle the reader into submission, riveting their eyes to the page, and into every uncomfortable situation there is to offer. From sadistic sexual torture, to the kinkiest of erotic moments, Gagliani’s prose promises to gather you up in its essence and whip you around like a rag-doll. I can fully understand why someone might feel a tad uncomfortable with the subject mater, but to miss out on something as expertly written as this would be a sin. A grave sin.

The body count is high, and the blood is ankle deep in this one – which is surprising because there isn’t a single monster in this book save for a few of the human variety. The book blasts along at a very steady pace, taking breaks only so far as to introduce another character, and then quickly picks up speed again in order to integrate that person into the present tale. There’s literally never a dull moment though, making this one seriously action packed thrill ride that will leave you wanting more.

Gagliani is a powerful writer, and a talent that deserves to be known throughout more of the horror community, and the literary landscape at large.

Get yourself a copy at Amazon, and hang out with the author on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.